Travel Industry Roundup | September 2
This week brought a mixed bag of headlines for business travelers. The good news? Riding Amtrak will be a more pleasant experience in the future; flying through LaGuardia too. The bad news? Those improvements are still several years (and many service disruptions) away. Read about those stories and more in Rocketrip’s latest roundup of travel industry news.
Amtrak’s New Acela Trains Will Be Faster, More Efficient
This week, at a ceremony held at the Wilmington, Delaware station from which he commuted into Washington D.C. for more than three decades, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Department of Transportation was extending $2.45 billion in new loans to Amtrak. The funding will primarily be used to replace Amtrak’s fleet of high-speed Acela trains. Conde Naste Traveler reports that the Northeast corridor’s aging track system will limit how much faster the new trains can go, but service frequency and on-board amenities should improve significantly.
As LaGuardia Is Overhauled, the Check-In Line Starts at the Highway
Biden has a connection to another travel infrastructure project, the $8 billion overhaul of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In 2014, the Vice President drew headlines when he said LaGuardia felt like it belongs in “some third world country.” Those comments helped spur a major reconstuction of LaGuardia, which is scheduled to be completed by 2024. But in the mean time, conditions at LaGuardia have gotten even worse. According to The New York Times, construction disruptions are causing major traffic jams and curbside lines.
Savings Trump Traveler Comfort in Airline Agreements
A survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives found that 87% of travel managers say discounts are the top factor influencing their airline agreements, but only 26% identified traveler comfort as a critical consideration. Business Travel News‘ review of the survey says that although savings remain the “top priority by a wide margin,” most corporate travel buyers expect traveler comfort to play a bigger role in agreements in coming years.
Upgrades Disappear as Airlines Make Smaller Improvements
In its report on the state of airline upgrades, Skift concludes that “scoring an upgrade has become an exception rather than the rule of frequent flying.” Even customers with mid-level elite status are less likely to be bumped into first class than they once were. Airlines have gotten better at monetizing their premium inventory, meaning there are fewer free seats available at the front of the plane. Additionally, industry consolidation has concentrated the number of elite flyers into just a few programs.
You can read more about the changing state of travel loyalty programs in these posts on the Rocketrip blog:
Why Travelers Choose Airbnb
A new study conducted by hospitality and tourism researchers at Canada’s Ryerson University sheds some light on why travelers book Airbnb. Highlights of the findings, published by tNooz, show that leisure travelers still account for the vast majority of Airbnb use, and that travelers’ motivation for using the home rental service is varied. The top reasons cited for using Airbnb include low cost, convenient location, and a home-like feel.